Early in the morning, we headed to the Roads End Ranger Station and obtained the permit. The ranger told us that he did not think that ice axes were needed for Brewer, so we left them in the car. The route starts in the Bubbs Creek trail, then takes the Sphinx Creek trail. The Sphinx Creek trail is very exposed at first, with countless switchbacks carved into the rock. Half way up, it is more sheltered and the switchbacks become longer. Do not miss the awesome rock formation called the Sphinx (for obvious reasons).
Eventually, we left the Sphinx Creek trail and started the cross-country route to the Sphinx Lakes. The route is very easy to follow, you just need to keep ascending over the drainage. After we left the trail, we continue on the left side (east) of the creek. The trick to make for a "walk in the park" is to follow the creek high enough so you are out of the brush, but low enough so you avoid boulder hopping (and this is talking by experience):
In retrospective, the best route is to leave the trail just before it crosses the creek and immediately ascend 200 feet by going almost straight East, then, continue South and cross a tributary of the Sphinx Creek. Keep ascending, so you keep yourself in the forest between the boulders further up and the brush further down. Sometimes you may have to go over some small sections of boulders, but this is much better than the brush further down. At about 9300ft, you reach a meadow, at the opposite side of the meadow there is a 300ft pile of boulders that you need to cross. Look carefully for an old unmaintained trail (we put several cairns that may still be there), for easy climbing. Shortly after the pile of boulders, one gets to Lower Sphinx Lake.
At Lower Sphinx Lake we found a group that was heading out and that has captured more trouts that they could carry. They offered us 9 trouts that we gladly accepted.
From Lower Sphinx Lake, we took an excellent trail (to the right of the lake) that avoids the marshy area. After a short and fun talus and slabs walk, we arrived to Upper Sphinx Lake, our base for Brewer. It took us 9 hours to arrive there from the trailhead. However, we didn't have any hurry so we took extended breaks in the way. I think it is possible to do it in 6 or 7 hours at a faster pace.
There are excellent campsites at upper Sphinx Lake. Mt. Brewer (or the saddle that leads to it) is not visible from the lake.
After setting camp, it was "cooking time." I have never cleaned fish before, so Dawn had to walk me through the steps: cut the middle, remove the guts, remove the gills... I have to say that it was a lot less messy and bloody that I was expecting.
After cleaning the trouts, we fried them in butter... Yummy!!! Zwia, a vegetarian, just kept at a safe distance from us; while Louis, in solidarity with her, didn't touch the trouts.
We woke up early, ready to tackle Mt. Brewer. From Upper Sphinx Lake (lake 10514), it took us 5 hours to get to the summit. This was done at a moderate pace. The route just keeps going up the lakes. It's no hard until you get to the last lake. At this lake, an obvious saddle is visible. The saddle is just a big pile of huge boulders in the center and smaller boulders to the sides. We believe that the best way of climbing it is to start on the side and head towards a green patch half way to the top. After that point, climb straight to the top. After one reaches the saddle, Brewer is in front.
We climbed down the saddle heading to the end of a prominent ridge, we went around the ridge and cross a relatively deep canyon (losing some altitude in the process). We ascended in the right side of the canyon on easy slabs until we reached the Northwest face of Brewer.
The northwest face of Brewer was partially covered with snow (4 big snow fields with the two upper ones so hard that crampons would be needed for ascending them). Given that we didn't have crampons or ice axes, we climbed on the rocks to the side of the snow fields. The climb on those rocks is almost class 3. The best route we found was to climb to the right of the snowfields up to the last one, then traverse horizontally under the last snow field and climb to its left. We reached the summit by a short chute that was partially covered with ice.
The register is not in the apparent highest point, instead is in a pinnacle to the left end of the summit ridge. The views from the top are one of the best I've ever seen.
It took us 2.5 to come back from Brewer to Upper Sphinx Lake. At that time, it was not worth going back to the trailhead, so we decided to camp an extra night.
On Monday, we lifted camp early in the morning and in exactly 5 hours we returned to the trailhead. After some difficulty finding a place to eat (no veggies allowed in Fresno!), we arrived late in the afternoon at the Bay Area.